Idol Chatter

Can lifelong friendships be torn apart by money when some of your friends have lots of it but others don’t? Are the age old proverbs “Money is the root of all evil” and “Money can’t buy happiness” actually true? Jennifer Aniston’s latest movie, “Friends With Money”–if you believe all the commercials and reviews out there–is supposed to ask those exact questions. The movie follows the lives of four women in Los Angeles who navigate their relationships with each other, with the men in their lives, and with money. Olivia ( Aniston) is a former schoolteacher who smokes pot, dates the wrong men, and scrubs people’s toilets for a living, while her three best friends all have successful careers, affluent lifestyles, and–on the surface–happy families. The movie is slightly unpredictable–the humor comes out of the most unlikely moments–and there are some brilliant performances to be enjoyed ( Frances Mc Dormand in particular), yet in many ways, “Friends with Money” doesn’t quite, well, pay off in the end.

While watching these four women talk… and talk… and talk… about how unhappy they are, I slowly began to realize that “Friends With Money” is not about money at all. Not really. The root of their unhappiness–with jobs, with spouses, with themselves–is directly linked to the lies they have been telling themselves for years. Christine (Catherine Keener) lies to herself abut many things, including that her husband is a swell guy and that she and her husband’s lavish lifestyle in the form of a remodeling project is not impacting their neighbors’ lives. Fashion designer Jane (McDormand) lies to herself about why she is depressed and hasn’t washed he hair in months , while her husband lies to himself about not really being gay. Meanwhile, Franny (Joan Cusack), who is the richest of the friends, lies to herself every time she doesn’t tell her husband that she thinks he is being too extravagant in the way he spends their money on their child.

And then there’s Olivia. She lies to herself by telling herself it’s easier, and better, to not care about anything.

By the end of the film, I wasn’t quite sure what the director wanted me to take away from this story, because there was no real resolution to the plot. But I will say that in spite of the movie’s flaws, I liked this examination of what causes the spiritual disconnect inside of ourselves. I just wish that sometimes Hollywood would realize that when it comes to storytelling, it is not always enough to raise important questions, but is also necessary to give some glimpses at some possible solutions as well.

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